Avalon 8.11 Tax Collectors and Other Thieves, part 1 of 6

After 1180 A.D. Nottinghamshire

Kairos 108: Helen de Lovetot of Sheffield

Recording …

Boston felt peeved.  The time gate sat in inches of water just off the coast.  “Man!” she protested.  “A few inches that way and the gate would be on dry land.”

“Japan is an island,” Katie said, which only upset Boston more.

“I know, but still.  A gate in water always leads to a gate in water.  Lincoln, where are we going?”

Lincoln said it again.  “Great Britain.”

“Great… Britain!”  Boston complained again.  “From one island to another.  But, you know, inches of water here could be the middle of the North Sea there.”

“Not necessarily,” Lincoln started to speak, but Alexis quieted him.

“Come on, Boston.  Let’s check it out,” Sukki said and kept her horse Cocoa steady on the beach.

Boston let out a soft growl and spurred her horse ahead.  She liked to go through first and Sukki did not mind.  “Cocoa and Strawberry into the drink,” she shouted and disappeared through the time gate.  Sukki went quietly after.

On the other side, they came out in a gentle river.  In fact, the river almost did not move at all, like the tide was in a stalemate with the river, just ready to go in or go out.  What is more, the spot they were in appeared quite shallow, so it was easy to climb out of the water and on to the riverbank.  Sukki looked toward the sea which began just a few hundred feet from where they stood with no trees to block her view.  She wondered if the whole area flooded when the tide came in.  Boston looked the other way, toward a big building that looked something like a church and on which the men were still building.

“Sukki, you need to fetch the others,” Boston said.  “I’ll check out the church and see where we are.”

“Boston?”  Sukki said and paused to think about what she already thought about a thousand times.

“What?” Boston said, being as patient as she could be.

“What is wrong?”  She paused, but not long enough for Boston to say, “nothing.”  She looked to the side and spoke.  “You are not the same, like you changed or something.  You were happy and carefree and loved everyone.  You helped me out of all my bad feelings, and I am so much better now. But it’s like you have gone the other way.  Nothing is ever right or good anymore.  You complain and sound bitter and unhappy about everything.”  She paused very briefly before she blurted out the rest.  “You were going to torture that poor man if he did not tell you the truth.  I understand wanting to protect the Kairos, but that isn’t it.”  Sukki paused for a longer time, but Boston did not answer her.  They just stood there staring at each other, so Sukki started again.  “What is wrong?”

“Nothing,” Boston said at last as a kind of automatic response, but Sukki didn’t move, and Boston finally had to look down briefly.  “Do you really want to know?”

“You are my sister.  I will never tell anyone.”

Boston nodded slightly.  “I’m tired.  I’m anxious, depressed, and so unhappy.  I think all this moving around is finally getting to me.”

Sukki shook her head.  There was more.  She waited, and Boston turned her head to look at the sea.

“Don’t get me wrong.  I love all the adventure.  I love seeing the Kairos in each time zone, and my hugs.  I can’t do without my hugs.  And I love all of you and having sisters.  I never had sisters before.  And don’t tell me you won’t say anything.  Sisters tell everything about their sisters.  I know that.”

“I won’t tell, honest.”  Sukki sounded as honest as she could be.

Boston grinned and nodded and looked down.  She said it anyway.  “It’s Roland.  I’m afraid for him.  I’m beginning to think that maybe he did die, and I miss him so much, you have no idea.  And I think after all this time, I just want this journey to be over.  I just want to get home and find him.  I need to know.”  She began to cry, and Sukki did not know what to say.

“There, there,” a man said.  “Grief is a terrible thing, but it is healthy if you don’t let it take over.”

Sukki and Boston felt shocked and looked down at a priest, or monk, or whatever he was.  Sukki stiffened as was her way.  Boston immediately stopped crying and spoke to the man.  “You surprised me.  That is very hard to do, you have no idea.”

The man pointed to the building on the hill.  “I was sitting there looking out at the sea, meditating about life and the Word, and I saw you appear in the river.  I wondered if you were angels.  I thought to come and see, and I see that you are angels of a sort.”  He smiled, and it was a nice smile.

“What is that place?”  Sukki asked.

The man glanced back and answered her.  “Lincluden Abbey,” he said.  “It is not finished, but near enough.  I have been thinking of late that I may return home.  It is in the south, in England proper.  The abbot does not need my help at this point and there is much spiritual need at home.  Such trouble I am hearing about.”  He clicked his tongue and shook his head.

Boston whipped out her amulet to look.  “We are headed that way,” she pointed south.

“I think you mean that way first,” the father said.  “You are pointing at the Firth of Solway, unless you plan to walk on the water.”  He smiled again.  It seemed to be his natural attitude.  “My name is Tucker, Father Tucker.”

“I’m Boston.  This is Sukki.”

“Such unusual names.  And you two women are traveling alone?  That would not be safe with robbers and thieves about.”

“We are not alone,” Sukki said.

“No.  No one is ever alone who goes with God, but still…”

“Sukki.  You better go fetch the others,” Boston said and got down to face the priest.  “You haven’t seen anything yet.”  Boston tried to smile for the first time and confessed.  “I’m not really grieving.  That’s the problem.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know if Roland is dead or alive.  He is home.  I just want to get home, but we have such a long way to go to get there.”

“Roland.  He is your husband?”

“Do I look old enough for a husband?”

“Hardly,” the priest smiled.  “But when a young woman cries like that, it is rarely for a father or brother.  It may be the man you love, but I suspect there is more to it, so I am guessing husband.”

Boston tried to smile again.  “You are a good guesser,” she said and looked away.  They watched Suki vanish through the time gate and the priest hardly gasped.  “I am missing him, terribly, and I am afraid he may be dead.”

“But you are not sure?”  He asked and Boston shook her head while the priest nodded.  “You may hope that he is alive and well.  You may believe that he is safe and waiting for you.  Faith and hope are good things when you are facing uncertainty, but better still is trust.  You don’t know the truth of it, and you can’t know until you get there.  But what you can do right now is trust that Almighty God is in control of the situation and he will work it out for good, ultimately for the best no matter the truth of it, no matter what.”

Boston nodded slightly.  “No matter what,” she repeated and sniffed, and turned her head to watch the others come through the time gate.  When they all arrived on the bank, Boston made the introduction.  “This is Father Tucker.  He is from the south, where we are going.  He has volunteered to guide us there.”

“I…”  He only said he was thinking about it, but he shrugged.  The opportunity was such that he imagined he might as well.  “I just need to collect my things and take my leave of the abbot.  I should be ready in about an hour if you care to wait.”

“He can ride my horse,” Tony spoke up from the wagon.  “Ghost has a hard enough time dragging this wagon across country as it is.  He doesn’t need the added weight of my horse dragging along behind.”

“Actually,” the priest said.  “There is a road over there that comes down from Dumfries and continues along the coast to join the North-South Road at the end of the Firth.  To be honest, it isn’t much better than going across the fields, as you say.  But the North-South Road is kept up fairly well.  It won’t be so hard on your wagon once we get there.”

“We can wait,” Lockhart said.  Father Tucker nodded and started back up the hill to fetch his things.

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